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COMMUNITY LEGAL SERVICES CLAIMS VICTORY IN FEDERAL COURT

 COMMUNITY LEGAL SERVICES CLAIMS VICTORY IN FEDERAL COURT
 PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Community Legal Services, Inc. (C.L.S.) announced today that it secured a victory in federal court for 4,000 Pennsylvania veterans and their dependents in nursing homes.
 In a decision filed in federal court in Philadelphia, Judge Clarence Newcomer ordered the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and the federal Department of Health and Human Services to stop making needy veterans and their family members in nursing homes pay the special needs allowance they receive from the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) to their nursing homes to pay for their care.
 The special needs allowance, known as the "Aid and Attendance" benefit, is provided by the VA to permit residents of nursing homes to pay for necessities like clothing and laundry and to purchase items such as stamps, newspapers, stationary, telephone service and televisions which keep them in touch with the world outside their nursing homes. Until last spring, the Welfare Department had a long-standing policy that permitted needy nursing home residents to keep the VA benefit. In March 1991, however, the Casey administration at the behest of the federal Health Care Financing Administration pushed, through an emergency regulation as part of its cost containment efforts that deprived residents of the use of this benefit. As a result, these residents were left with $30 or less per month in spending money.
 "This is an important victory for veterans and their dependents in nursing homes," said C.L.S. attorney Lisa Day, who, along with Alison Hirschel and Richard Weishaupt, represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. "By recognizing that the nursing home residents are entitled to keep this special benefit, the court has allowed the residents to enjoy a measure of independence and dignity and to purchase necessities and small joys," Day commented. "It means people can maintain their ties to the community, just as Congress intended when it enacted the program," added Weishaupt.
 Elizabeth Holden, 53, a veteran's widow who is a long-time resident of the Philadelphia Nursing Home, said she was "shaking with excitement" when she learned of the victory. Holden, a voracious reader who used her Aid and Attendance benefit to purchase books, explained she had not been able to buy reading material since the Welfare Department implemented its regulation last March. Holden is a named plaintiff in the lawsuit.
 Ginevieve Ginley, 74, another named plaintiff whose husband, a medic, died while trying to carry an injured soldier to safety in World War II, stated that she thought the decision was fair. She said she could not believe that Americans favored taking benefits away from veterans and their widows and that the benefit permitted her to live with some dignity even though she was in a nursing home. Ginley explained she used her benefit to buy small items, attend meetings at which she represents other nursing home residents, and pay for repairs to her television.
 Under the court's order, the Department of Public Welfare and the federal government have been ordered to issue directives or regulations ensuring that the VA Aid and Attendance benefit, which can be as much as $369 per month for veterans, is no longer included in the income residents are required to pay to their nursing homes.
 For further information, recipients of the VA benefit and their family and friends can contact Day, Hirschel or Weishaupt at Community Legal Services, Inc.
 /delval/
 -0- 2/3/92
 /CONTACT: Lisa Day or Richard P. Weishaupt, 215-893-5300, or Alison Hirschel, 215-227-2400, all of C.L.S./ CO: Community Legal Services, Inc. ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


JS-KA -- PH028 -- 6247 02/03/92 14:09 EST
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Date:Feb 3, 1992
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